With the dog days of summer upon us, McKinney Courier Gazette sports editor Kendrick E. Johnson will look back and catch up with some former McKinney ISD athletes who starred at one of the three high schools over the last three decades in the upcoming weeks.
This week’s guest is part of Boyd’s Class of 2013. On the football field, he scored the most touchdowns in Bronco history with 61 and is the all-time leading rusher in McKinney ISD with 5,275 yards. Following his football career and graduating from the Air Force Academy, he currently is a first lieutenant in the Air Force, serving as a pilot for the AC-130W (Gunship).
Sit back and enjoy the fifth of six installments of “Where Are They Now” Sunday Spotlight conversations, continuing with guest Boyd football legend and Air Force product Bryan Driskell.
How would you describe the hard work you put in to rush for over 1,000 yards three consecutive seasons?
Driskell: So much more goes into the production than what is seen on Friday nights. I had some absolute dogs on the offensive line. Rafael Serrano was a guy who I was running behind since middle school and just one of the greatest guys I know.
I had guys like Alex Shaheen, the Haynes twins, Nick Creedon and Cameron Thibodeaux busting their heads 40 times a game for the team. As for me, I never stopped competing.
Whether it was offseason or in-season, the goal was always to produce at a high level. I wanted to be the hardest worker in the weight room and on the field. The thing is we had a bunch of guys who wanted the same thing so that pushed me even further.
When things got busy with recruiting, I would go to camps against some of the best players in Texas and play against elite talent. Lastly, I grew up with five siblings, including three brothers. Whether it was sports, video games, charades or everyday arguments, we never stopped competing – I mean never.
How much pride do you take being the only person in Boyd football history to win back-to-back District MVPs?
Driskell: Honestly, I didn’t even realize that. That is hard to believe coming after a line of studs like Daryn (Alves), James (Driskell), Jamal (Palmer). One thing I am proud of is winning MVP in two different districts.
This shows the progress McKinney Boyd has made in football since the opening of the school. Giving McKinney Boyd that exposure, and McKinney especially, is what it is all about. Other than that, I’m just blessed.
What made you pick having a have successful military career at the Air Force Academy over other schools who offered you scholarships coming out of Boyd?
Driskell: God put me where he wanted me to be. My pops always reminded me that college is not just a four-year decision, but a 40-year decision and I really wanted my degree to mean something. Don’t get me wrong, ask “Sophomore Bryan” in high school what I wanted to do, and I was answering the NFL.
After I tore my hamstring late-junior year and recruiting changed up too, there was a shift in my mentality. I didn’t completely give up my NFL dream, but I became more intrigued with schools that had long-term security.
Even if I was blessed and had an opportunity to go to the NFL, the average career for a running back is about three years. Once I realized that, the NFL became less of a priority and more of an option.
The Air Force Academy is where the cream of the crop meets the top of the cream. There were a big group people who wanted to do bigger and greater things, and I wanted to be a part of that.
Who has been your big influence in your life and how have the lessons they taught you helped you succeed on and off the field?
Driskell: I would have to separate this one into different chapters of my life. Growing up, on the field, my brother James was the standard. I played against the older guys until fifth grade to play with him.
James was always one of the most talented and hard-working players on the field –he would let you know about it too. Soccer, basketball, football, you name it. We were two grades apart and are 16 months apart in age.
I pushed every day to be as good or better than he was at everything. He gave me something to chase.
Pops gave me the mental fortitude. He always taught me to always keep your legs moving until the whistle blows.
There was a life lesson there too – it doesn’t matter how bad things get, until that door is completely shut, do not stop short of your goal. The path was set, I just followed it.
What did it mean to be a Boyd Bronco and the pride that comes with representing Red Nation on Friday nights?
Driskell: That was so special. There is nothing like Friday night lights and the environment of Texas high school football. Running out of the smoky tunnel with all the friends I grew up with, looking out to the stands and not just having fans but friends and family who genuinely mean something in my life rooting for the team. Everybody felt the energy, and everybody was feeding off of it. Red Nation took that energy to an entirely different level.
My senior year was when Red Nation was founded. Shout-out to Kyle, Russ, and all the rest of that crew for getting that started. I think Red Nation gave McKinney Boyd fans, in all sports, an identity and it was something everyone could be a part of.
The train started and everyone hopped on. The spirit of the crowds completely changed once Red Nation came around.
To be a Boyd Bronco during that time meant we had to exceed the expectation, and that is what we did.
How special is it to be seven years removed from starring at Boyd and still being the all-time leading rusher in McKinney ISD history?
Driskell: Wow, that is special. I knew I was Boyd’s but all of McKinney, I had no idea. Well first, it reminds me how old I am getting, and my body definitely feels it.
Records are meant to be broken and I am sure there is a youngin’ hunting to be great and he will be. I also think records like this gives someone a tangible goal to chase and maybe gives a guy the motivation to do that extra rep, extra sprint, or take extra time to do what is necessary in order to go where he wants to go.
What do you miss about McKinney and how did growing up here give the solid foundation you have today?
Driskell: Miss is a tough word. A person has to move forward eventually, right? It is more of an appreciation of McKinney.
Living in McKinney my entire life, I appreciate all the friends I had and still have to this day – some of whom I have known since kindergarten. I appreciate all the teachers I had – Mr. Flemons, Mrs. Vochoska, Mr. Parr, Mrs. Abel.
The people in your circle can either have the key to a cage or a key to a door. The solid foundation and the support I had around me growing up was my key to a door and I am forever grateful.
Do you ever plan on returning to McKinney and where do you see yourself in life five years from now?
Driskell: It would be a long time from now. I joke about it with some of my friends after retiring to come back and try to win some state championships. Most likely as a position coach, though.
As funny as it sounds, my next 10 years are pretty laid out for me so I sort of know where I will be. I am an Air Force pilot flying the special operations plane, the AC-130.
My duty station tours are about 2-3 years. Right now, I am moving to New Mexico, but in five years I’ll be in Florida flying the mission. Other than that, I’m the same ole guy walking around with a big ole smile on my face.